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School secretaries vote to accept pay scale aligned with public service rates

Previously most secretaries were employed directly by schools, with many earning minimum wage.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

SCHOOL SECRETARIES HAVE voted overwhelmingly to accept new pay and working conditions, which places them on public service salary rates.

The new agreement will see all school secretaries transfer to a new pay-scale aligned with the public service clerical officer scale.

Previously most secretaries were employed directly by schools, with many earning minimum wage.

The clerical officer scale ranges from €25,339 to €41,504.

The new deal was negotiated by Fórsa and it says it significantly improves incomes and paid leave arrangements for low-paid secretaries.

The union added that school secretaries have been “overlooked and undervalued” for years.

A total of 95% of school secretaries who are Fórsa members voted to accept the agreement, on a 73% turnout.

Assimilation to the public sector pay scale will be backdated to last September. All school secretaries will be on the Department of Education payroll system with standardised pay arrangements across all schools.

The agreement will also see salaries averaged over 52 weeks, meaning secretaries will no longer have to sign on for unemployment benefits during school holidays.

A total of 22 days paid leave a year, as well as payment for ten public holidays is also included in the arrangement. Fórsa says this replaces ad-hoc arrangements, which left many school secretaries with no paid holidays.

The union noted that the agreement will place secretaries with ten years’ service on an hourly rate of €13, representing a 19.5% pay increase. Secretaries with 20 years’ service will see increases of 24.5%.

Fórsa’s Head of Education, Andy Pike, said the deal would see many staff get a permanent contract of employment for the first time ever.

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“This historic agreement is a significant step forward for school secretaries who have been overlooked and undervalued for so many years.

“Crucially the agreement secures pay parity with the public service, and ensures that they will no longer have to sign on when schools are closed.

“The provision of paid leave will benefit many members who have never received any paid holiday entitlement. And a standard national contract will enable Fórsa to seek improved conditions in the years ahead,” Pike said.

The agreement does not include pension provision for school secretaries. Fórsa noted that this is the source of some disappointment. Pike said the union would continue to seek fair pension provision for school secretaries.

He added that discussions on a similar outcome for school caretakers would now get underway.

About the author:

Céimin Burke

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